Monday, May 2, 2011

Classroom Badging System - Re-Evaluating Assessment Part II

Time afforded me during the second to last week in April, while the family was still in school, (spring break did not start until the following week for them) provided me with uninterrupted computer work time at home. There were not telephone calls, no interruptions, and except for the occasional land line call, and those I gave up answering years ago; it was great!

During that time I managed to scrape together a working beta, draft, “first-try” ...what ever you want to call it, badge assessment management system. Rather than restate what I said in the previous post all over again, this system and idea were the result of discussions that had taken place in our school district’s Innovative Schools Planning Committee in the preceding weeks. The discussions centered around student assessment, and the concepts we felt would be valuable in a effective student assessment system. The badge assessment ideas, and the resulting management system, are a working model of some of the concepts we discussed.

The committee realizes that there can never be just one assessment, but multiple measures should be used to gauge the successful learning of students. A badging system could easily fit within a total assessment strategy, and would provide some of the concepts that our current assessments systems lack. Some of these concepts are:

  • No ceiling on achievements.
  • Graphic, pictorial representation of achievement ideal for display and sharing.
  • No ceiling on what can be measured.
  • Any person with a stake in the success of the learner can contribute assessments, including the learner themselves.
  • High degree of assessment relevance for learner.
  • Assessment system can be deployed in multiple environments/formats.
  • Graphic, badge/display focus lends itself to a development of learner culture with emphasis on emotion, beauty, desire, creativity, etc.
  • Assessment system fosters intrinsic motivation.
  • Assessment systems fosters greater degree of “buy-in” from learner.
  • Assessment does not expire or is limited by a specific time period.
  • Assessments can be tied to real-world experiences.

The fun and challenging part for me during my uninterrupted computer time was to create a tool using technology that would help teachers to manage this type of assessment system. I decided to create a little web based system, and used a mySQL database as the backend and PHP to glue everything together. It was a great opportunity to dust off some skills I had been neglecting for awhile. In addition to these technologies I learned a little bit more about Spry objects in Adobe’s Dreamweaver , and very nice system called Smarty that provides a templating system to separate your html, or css design, from you PHP code. I nabbed Smarty out of the most recent version of Wicked Cool PHP Tricks by Steinmetz and Ward. The books a nice resource for other handy PHP recipes needed in the creation of basic web apps. As this was, as every time it is a learning experience for me, this little project gave me many new learning opportunities. (Actually, the project was also the basis for some ideas I was kicking around in my head related to the development of some Android and iOS applications using LiveCode . The LiveCode User Conference was the following week in San Jose. More information about my experience at the conference will follow in a later post.)

As with many things I put together fairly quickly, the code behind the system is poorly commented and the design is rather utilitarian. However, if you are interested in looking at how this thing works, or are interested in looking at the code that makes up the site, just shoot me an email.

You can access the site at:

You will need to log in with the following credentials:

Teacher - username: teacher password: password

Student - username: styler password: password

As I mentioned earlier, this site is very rough. There is no documentation or “help” screens. I’m hoping someone like yourself though won’t have any trouble figuring it out. Also, if you visit more than once, you are likely to see changes.

Let me know what you think!

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